“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”
Susan B. Anthony
Me Too and the Liberation of Women
The Me Too movement, or #METOO on social media, served as a huge wake-up call in Hollywood. It revealed to us that interns with star and stripes in their eyes had to sign a NDA if accusing a congressman of sexual harassment. The music industry has been surprisingly silent. It is a tidal wave of awareness in the workplace that should have been the norm for the past fifty years.
The Me Too movement is strictly in the United States. Other first world countries have little to say about it. Maybe Marlene Dietrich said it best, “Sex in American is an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact.” In any case, most agree that it is about power more than sex that started the upheaval.
Still, as America goes in feminism; so follows the world. The Me Too movement has been powerful and out-spoken at great personal risk and is making changes, positive changes, everywhere. For example, Oregon passed a recent gun control law which has the common-sense portion that if you have a restraining order on you; you can not have a gun.
In the United States, the Me Too movement has been loud and often furious but we do have to remember that globally, this is a very thin slice. In most of the world, women don’t have a say at all about how they are treated and fewer still are allowed to have a job in the work-place.
The language can be strong. Watching the media, one imagines there is no line between harassment and assault even though one is a civil matter and the other is a felony. Personally, I’ve never liked the word “harassment” because it implies continued intent even while used in a one time experience. Sexual Harassment suggests an ongoing experience in language and so is seriously lacking as a label.
The Women’s Liberation Movement is well rooted in all of the first world countries. No one can really put a date on when it started but I think The Pill began the reality of freedom for women. The struggle for equality in society and the workplace continues today acknowledging tremendous strides forward.
It is a difficult task to change a civilization where men were dominant for either 50,000 years or a million years, depending on your view. One can guess at some inherent behavior from evolution to see the behaviors now needing to be repressed and stifled in this new world.
The Women’s Liberation Movement has always been clumsy with few defining the ideal way to behave in society. It is typically about what not to do. If we see The Pill marking new freedoms in the 60s, remember that five million men died in World War II and the men who came back from the war were in demand as husbands and much desired. To suddenly have the rules of behavior changed but not defined threw everyone for a loop.
If we look at the 60’s as the beginning and think that sixty full years should be enough to “get it”, I think it must be balanced against a million years of evolution. Women were currency to be bought with goats and horses, in many places they still are today. Meaning, the behavior code for men was set for a very long time and new behaviors must be learned by a society as a whole. I’m sure that many Dads today are teaching their sons “how to be a man” by curiously outdated ideals.
About fifteen years ago, I read an article in USA Today. It said that, for the first time ever, more women were attending college than men. I loved imagining the slow evolution as these graduates would grow into their jobs over the next twenty, thirty, forty years. I think we are seeing the beginning results with the Me Too movement and, really, the amazing number of women who are running for office all over the United States.
I wonder if we’ll ever strike a balance. Japan today is very nervous because their women chose career over having babies and there will be no one to care for the elderly. Somehow there must be a responsibility beyond the individual desires of self freedom? I don’t know.
So, where does that leave us? We move forward, each step with eyes open, trying to live a decent and good life. That is what our parents taught us, right?